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Writing Tips from a Writer in the Trenches

A few tips to help new writers avoid the same mistakes I made.

When I returned to an old passion of mine, writing, just under five years ago, I was hopelessly uninformed about pretty much everything about the writing world. All I knew is that I loved to put words down on a blank page, creating something from nothing. I figured that was the hard part.

Ah, the bliss of ignorance.

I’d always written, but never with the aim of publication. But after I took my first online class—writing for children—and wrote a few stories my family and friends seemed to enjoy, I began toying with the idea of submitting my work.


Henry, hanging out with his grandparents. Photograph by author

How a tiny black and white cat brought joy to a family struggling through the pandemic.

All my life, I’ve been a dog person. I don’t mind cats. They’re cute enough, I suppose, albeit in an annoyingly independent way. It’s just that the canines of the world have always taken top billing in my heart. Those luminous eyes, the wagging tails, the unconditional adoration — what’s not to love?

But that was before.

Before Covid hit and the world came screeching to a halt, trapping us all inside our lonely little bubbles.

Before my oldest daughter and her fiancé were both forced to work from home in their tiny two-bedroom apartment and decided they wanted to…

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Sometimes it’s difficult to decide if someone sharing your words is a compliment or a theft.

Pla·gia·rism: the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece called Things I Wish I’d Known Before Submitting My Writing.

My whole intent for writing this piece was to help writers avoid making the same mistakes I did. I was quite thrilled that so many people found it useful and left wonderful comments. The link to my article was shared many times, much to my delight.

However, I was surprised one day, as I was checking Twitter and came across a tweet mentioning the title of my story. I followed it to its source, on the Chicago Writer’s Association Blog.

They changed the…

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Me, I suffered from poor focus, loss of inspiration, decreasing creativity.

My 2020’s lofty goals included:

  • write 12 short stories, one a month for the entire year, and sell at least two
  • have at least one short story published in print.
  • receive 30 rejections for my short-form work
  • finish the edits from my agent for my young adult novel
  • have agent send said manuscript out on submission to editors.
  • work on draft 2 of NaNo manuscript
  • enter ten contests, some for short stories, some for my non-fiction work, and even a few for my unpublished novel
  • reach 2000 followers on Medium by the end of the year
  • reach 5000 Twitter followers by the end of the…

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Writing Tips From a Writer in the Trenches.

I’ve had blue-pencil sessions with six of the best in the business. Here are some of the most useful things I’ve learned.

Blue Pencil Session: A fifteen-minute session where a professional author or editor reviews three double-spaced pages of your work and discusses it with you.

The writing tips gained from these sessions have the ability to raise your writing to a whole new level.

I’ve attended the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, (SiWC) in my opinion, one of the best writing conferences around, every year for the past five years. As part of the conference package, attendees can choose one blue -pencil session with an author or editor of their choice.

One has to be extremely fast to snag a session with some of the more famous presenters, but in the past few years, I’ve managed to get my first choice…

Stacey Kondla, photo by Stacey Kondla/The Rights Factory

Writing Tips From a Writer in the Trenches.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with a bright new force in the agenting world.

Pull up a chair, get comfortable, and listen in on my conversation with literary agent, Stacey Kondla.

LAW: Thank you so much for agreeing to let me interview you, Stacey. I’m truly grateful to have a chance to chat with you.

SK: Thank you for thinking of me!! It’s so exciting!

LAW: This has been quite a journey for you. When we first met, you were a fairly new associate agent and now, in a very short period of time, you are a full agent and a rising star in the agenting world with a very impressive sales record.

SK: {{I’m blushing}} But I’m also very happy with 12 deals in 14 months. And they are all…

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A quick trip to a friend’s timeshare just across the border in Blaine Washington turned out to be more complicated than I expected.

The world is in turmoil, unprecedented turmoil, thanks to a novel coronavirus spreading like wildfire across the globe. I have no idea how badly this is going to impact the world’s economy, but that it will have a huge impact is undeniable.

I’m blessed, in so many ways. So far, my life has been relatively unaffected. My husband is retired, and I am now a fulltime writer, working from home. Life has gone on as usual for us, with extra hand washing and good judgment. No mad panicked buying of toilet paper for us. …

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Flash fiction

“Randal!” Where the hell was that stupid dog? This was the third time this week he’d pissed inside.

She was alone now, no one but her to let him out, so he had to be in the house. But she’d searched every damn room.

Sasha McLean stomped down the stairs. She was a frail slip of a woman, and yet the wooden planks creaked and groaned with the impact of each footstep.

“Randal, come here. Such a good boy.” She gritted her teeth, anger painting her innocuous words the scarlet red of rage. The dog wasn’t stupid. She knew he’d…

A few of the most sexist things I’ve dealt with working as a female physiotherapist in private practice.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Recently, an author friend of mine sent out a survey. She’s working on a possible novel idea, and decided to poll the women in her life. To see if any of us had been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. The questions in her survey were about employers, and although I’ve been fortunate enough to never have experienced harassment by any employer, it was a completely different story when it came to my patients.

I was discussing this with my twenty-four-year-old daughter this evening. She read this article, cried a little, and gave me a hug. We talked about…

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Why my time’s up, I hope I go reading an amazing book — or even better, writing one.

Today marks two years since the world lost an amazing woman, my friend, Vi, and almost 18 years since we lost an even more amazing man, my dad, (aka my hero.)

Of the two, Vi did death the “right way.” Not that there can ever be a right way to die.

Vi was an extraordinary woman. Physiologically, if not chronologically, younger and more vivacious than most people my age, despite being on the cusp of 90.

She favoured skinny jeans, gorgeous boots, and funky sweaters. Her silver hair was perfectly styled in an asymmetrical bob that she wore with the…

Leslie Wibberley

Award-winning writer of CNF, short stories & novels—horror, magical realism, romance, speculative fiction—adult & YA. Presently in Shitt’s Creek withdrawal.

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